Horror Divas

Alaa El Fadel is an MFA student who is currently working on a fantasy novel. Her blog, Mountain Quill, is where you can follow her journey on writing.

Although people say don’t judge a book by its cover, that’s exactly what I did when I spotted the Narnia chronicles in a bookstore. I thought the unicorn was pretty. I delved into a world of fantasy that mesmerised me. Ever since then, I wanted to create such worlds. Making up stories has been a passion, especially when it came to explaining report cards.

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Fear. Panic. Terror! Sound familiar? That’s what the horror genre used to do before the big monsters were tamed. Vampires, werewolves and zombies petrified the bravest of souls – that is until everyone wanted to date them. Well, except zombies, we can get over necrophilia and murder but rotting flesh is just disgusting.

So what happened? Looking back into the history of the genre, it is safe to say that horror started off in folklore. The superstitious collected unexplained experiences and melded them with cases of unfathomable, human cruelty. Diseases and mental conditions became curses, possessions, witchcraft and divine punishment. How else could anyone explain such things? It was those dang, meddling monsters! Or a deity was upset with you…shame on you.

Then what happened? Just like any ravenous beast with wild imaginings, writers lunged at the tales and Frankensteined them in their narratives. No longer counting on memory, the monster’s immortality evolved on stone, paper and finally, iPads. Yay. At one point, vampires were so feared that bodies were exhumed and staked for those better safe than sorry moments. The horror genre was born and soon obeyed the whims of mass interest; they had their ups and downs over the centuries, even more so when novels and movies partnered on the dance floor. Hollywood reigned in the latest hype when they produced movies like The Exorcist, Blade, Dawn of the Dead, Dog Soldiers, etc.  But who could ignore the literary stars who began or excelled the genre of dread? Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P.Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu and many more.

But all was about to change in the land of blood and gore. The first instance I realised not all monsters were created equal was when the comic book character of Blade appeared on film. A half-vampire (Daywalker) who hunted other vampires? My writer’s brain got knocked over. No longer were heroes restricted to virtuous nobles or gifted underdogs, the monsters themselves practised human choice by slaying their kin. Japanese novelist, Hideyuki Kikuchi created compelling novels of a ‘young’ dhampir by the name of D. D travels the nuclear wastelands of 12,090 AD, where the vampire civilization rose and fell. Occupation – vampire hunter…for a hefty price off course. Those mechanical horses won’t oil themselves.

When vampires softened by refusing to ‘eat’ humans and opted for the vegetarian menu of blood substitutes or animals, sorry Bambi, their scare level dropped. Werewolves soon followed in The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris and the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. I missed the old monsters. It was a breath of fresh air to read, The Passage by Justin Cronin. Vampires were the lovely, blood-sucking monsters that would sooner rip your head off than give you a smooch. I went back to peacefully worrying about them creeping into my room in the dead of night. John Connolly didn’t disappoint either in, The Book of Lost things and his comedy horror, The Gates. Oh, those rascally demons and their possessings.

So what does this mean for horror? Pretty much anything. Genres shift and change along with people’s interests. Horror coupled with romance to birth ‘Paranormal Romance’ – its own little, gurgling sub-genre of joy. Although the diapers stink, it’s still a whole new adventure that’s going to grow up one day.

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  1. Trackback: Mountain Quill » Blog Archive » Horror Divas

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